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Boris Johnson Remains in Intensive Care; Number of Cases and Deaths in U.K. Rising; Dominic Raab Takes Over for Boris Johnson; George Osborne, Former U.K. Chancellor of the Exchequer is Interviewed; Britain's Fight Against the Coronavirus; Jeremy Farrar, Director, The Wellcome Trust, is Interviewed About Exit Strategy on Coronavirus; Interview With Billie Jean King. Aired 2-3p ET
Aired April 7, 2020 - 14:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CHIEF INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Hello, everyone, and welcome to "Amanpour." Here's what's coming up.
Boris Johnson, the British prime minister, remains in intensive care even as his government fights the coronavirus. What does this all mean for
Britain and for Johnson himself? I speak to the former chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, and to Jeremy Farrar, the leading expert
advising the British government.
Then, tennis legend, Billie Jean King, joins the fight against the pandemic. The site of the U.S. Open named in her honor is transformed into
an emergency hospital.
And, veteran science journalist, John Cohen, tracks down the truth behind the coronavirus spin.
Welcome to the program, everyone. I'm Christiane Amanpour working from home in London, where here in the U.K., the British prime minister, Boris
Johnson, remains in intensive care.
Downing Street insist that is he is in good spirits, stable and receiving "standard oxygen treatment," not invasive ventilation. But it is serious
and, frankly, unsettling as the country struggles to fight the disease that has struck the prime minister himself.
Unlike the United States, Britain has no formal succession. First Secretary Dominic Raab who is the foreign minister is deputized to fill in as
necessary. But exactly does this mean and what happens if Johnson is further unable to do his job? The number of coronavirus cases and deaths in
the U.K. is very much on the rise with more than 55,000 cases reported and over 6,000 dead, with the peak perhaps expected to crest over the Easter
When David Cameron was prime minister, his finance minister or chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, served as first secretary, his designated
deputy, the role Dominic Raab has right now. Osborne is editor of "The Evening Standard" newspaper and he's a keen observer, of course, of the
inner workings of the government at this critical time and he is joining us right now.
George Osborne, welcome to the program.
GEORGE OSBORNE, FORMER U.K. CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER: Very good to be on.
AMANPOUR: So, we're trying to talk over Skype and it is a pretty intense situation right now. This is the first country, as you know, where the
leader is basically incapacitated. I know that's not a technical term, but he's out of action in intensive care.
Can I just ask you? Do you think that he remained at Downing Street for too long? I mean, anybody can see from the latest video when he came out to try
to cheer the NHS workers as Britons do every Thursday night now, I mean, he looked absolutely terrible. Do you think he should have been in hospital
OSBORNE: Well, you know, I'm not a doctor. So, I don't know. What I do know is that Boris Johnson is a fighter who would have absolutely hated
leaving the center of government at a moment like this, and I think also someone who would not wanted to take up a spare place in the hospital
unless he absolutely needed to.
But there is something remarkable going on because this has been a very divided nation, as you know and your viewers know, and we have had a lot of
partisanship here over recent years. This crisis and indeed the prime minister's illness has brought this country together in a way I would never
have guessed that made us a much more united kingdom because the whole country now, you know, whether they supported him or not politically wants
him to get better and is wishing him well in his situation in intensive care.
AMANPOUR: Indeed. And there have been obviously well-wishers coming from all over the world, from the United States, from Europe, from many, many
parts of the world. And as you say it does unite, particularly as this really deadly disease is threatening every single person on this planet
and, of course, in this country as well.
I just wanted to ask you what you think about the idea of what this government has been telling us. Look, yesterday, just hours before Boris
Johnson was rushed to intensive care, we had a tweet that we reported on this show of him tweeting that he was in charge. Let me just read it. I'm
in good spirits, keeping in touch with me team as we work together to fight this virus and keep everyone safe.
But as I was reading that, Dominic Raab was saying in his daily presser that actually he hadn't been speaking to Boris Johnson since Saturday. The
question now is, you know, is the government leveling and do they now more than ever have to be absolutely 1,000 percent transparent with the public?
OSBORNE: Yes. I think they do. I think we don't live in an age anymore where you can pretend that your head of government is fine when clearly, he
is not and he is in intensive care. You know, a bygone era., Winston Churchill had a stroke while he was prime minister and managed to keep it
secret. And, you know, when I was a child you always have those funny situations in the Soviet Union where someone was clearly not very well and
the state media was saying that they were.
You know, I don't think that works and I think the current plan you get from Downing Street or regular updates on the prime minister's health
condition is a much better one than pretending that he is all fine and dandy and sitting in his hospital bed, you know, going through the
paperwork. Because, you know, I think as a country throughout this entire crisis we want our leaders to level with us not to be overly optimistic,
not give us false hope and at the same time just to send out the facts because everyone is in the same boat and this disease strikes everyone as
we have seen very obviously with the condition that the prime minister is in.
AMANPOUR: George Osborne, the United States has a constitutional process whereby if the president is incapacitated the vice president takes over.
And then if that doesn't work, the speaker of the house and so on. Here it is not like that. Boris Johnson himself created first minister in the
foreign minister, the foreign secretary, Dominic Raab, and he is "going to deputize as necessary." You yourself, as we said, were given that position
by David Cameron. So, what do you think it means? What does deputize as necessary mean? And -- yes. Well, first let me ask you that.
OSBORNE: Yes. Well, of course, Britain does have a head of state, that's her majesty the queen. And she broadcast to the nation very unusually on
Sunday night and rallied people and she's seen many prime ministers come and go and we have a system where, you know, the prime minister's really
the first among equals. They chair the cabinet, the individual secretaries of state.
Now, there are some powers that a prime minister exercises alone. Awesome power. A bit like the president of the United States. Launch nuclear
weapons or to shoot down a passenger plane that might be hijacked. But there are already established procedures for deputies or alternates, as
they're called, to undertake the very extreme powers should the prime minister be incapacitated or unavailable.
So, you know, that was already in place. This is an unusual situation where for a period of time the prime minister might be out of action. But the
cabinet can function without its leader, at least for a period of time. And what Dominic Raab has to do, and he's, you know, very capable individual,
is bring about a consensus in the cabinet. What he doesn't have is Johnson's ability to say, if you don't agree with me, I'm firing you. So,
he has to work more by consensus. But hopefully, it's a very temporary situation.
AMANPOUR: And just to be very clear because, you know, there has been criticism from within the party that who knows who's governing the military
right now? What if a hostile power decides to take advantage of this momentary weakness? Does Dominic Raab control the military and does he have
the nuclear codes?
OSBORNE: Well, the short answer would be yes basically. I mean, I -- you know, the nuclear codes are a state secret about who the alternates are.
But I would put it this way, I'd be surprised if it wasn't the foreign secretary and first secretary of state, Dominic Raab. But, you know, I
think on already bad situation in the world would be very much worse if you had to access to the nuclear codes or something.
And I think the military questions, yes, now would be an alternate to Dominic Raab. That wouldn't have been the case a couple of days ago and it
wouldn't be the case if the prime minister was, you know, conscious and although in intensive care and under supervision nevertheless, you know,
very much, you know, with his own mind. But if it's the case that he's, you know, properly incapacitated and certainly if he were to be on a ventilator
then, yes, Dominic Raab would be able to take those decisions.
But, again, in the British system, they're not presidential decisions. You still need the support of your cabinet to undertake prolonged military
action. There's a defense secretary. You, indeed, in our country also have to get the consent of Parliament for certain things. So, there's no doubt
that Dominic Raab has a whole load of powers that he did not have a couple of days but it is still within the context of a cabinet system where he is,
as I say, first among equals and doesn't have all that patronage and future impact on people's careers that a prime minister does and that keeps people
AMANPOUR: Right. And he can't hire and fire, you're saying, and the queen, with due respect, is a constitutional monarch and she cannot make
government decisions. So, one of the major decisions that has to be made is reviewing Prime Minister Johnson's three-week timeline for the lockdown,
and that expires sometime next week.
What is your gut instinct? What are you hearing? Do you think that that will remain in place, this lockdown, or do you feel that Dominic Raab will
have the opportunity to lift it? What do you think is going on in terms of the timeline of this virus and whether that decision is made while Boris
Johnson is in hospital?
OSBORNE: Well, first of all, I think if Johnson were to stay in hospital for a long period of time, this would be the big question facing Dominic
Raab and the cabinet. And a question which Boris Johnson has not previously provided the answer, you know, the moment the cabinet and Mr. Raab just
implementing the plans that were already been set out for the quarantine and for the measures to protect the economy.
Look, my guess is, an informed guess, is that there's no way that the quarantine is going to be lifted next week, in Britain or indeed in any
other significant European country. In the -- because the rate of deaths continues to grow, the rate of infections continues to grow. And although
the, you know, experts' medical opinion is that we might be approaching the peak, we certainly haven't reached it now.
And I did notice Mr. Raab did a press conference a couple of hours ago, actually started to shift the goal post a bit. So, instead of this three-
weekly review which we've got in the U.K. which was supposed to be every three weeks, we review whether the quarantine continues, he now says, we're
not going to review whether the quarantine continues or in what form it continues until after the peak has been passed, and that clearly is not the
case here yet here in the U.K., sadly. So, I think that decision, anyway, is put off effectively this afternoon.
AMANPOUR: And very finally, as you know, of course, the chancellor did a massive stimulus for the British people and as, of course, in the United
States as well and there is a big argument under way right now or debate, should we say, within governments as to the whole sort of, is the cure
worse than the virus? Should we start preparing to get back to work? As a former chancellor, what is your view on that briefly?
OSBORNE: Look, I think at the moment there's no question that the quarantine is necessary and a sick society is not going to have a healthy
economy. I think it's going to be a much bigger question in the coming months as we pass the peak, as a larger number of people have had the
disease. And clearly, it's just not possible to shut down an economy for nine months or a year and it would have very serious health effects if you
I think the final thing I would just say is that there's a bit of a hole in the dam that has been built up to try and protect the economy from this
wave of redundancies and failures, and that is these, you know, many companies still will not benefit from some of the government schemes or
indeed schemes like it in Europe. And, you know, I think you're going to find western governments taking stakes in companies, something unthinkable,
even a couple of months ago, to try to inject some equity into those businesses. So, that the crucial question you ask me about, when can you
start easing quarantine is put off a bit and the life support for the economy continues to come, because we are going to need more of it as this
situation goes on and on.
AMANPOUR: George Osborne, former chancellor of the Exchequer, editor of "The Evening Standard," thank you for joining me tonight.
And meanwhile, as the United States wrestles with the health and economic impact of coronavirus, President Trump has just sidelined the inspector
general assigned to monitor the $2 trillion emergency spending package, removing critical oversight from that program. The United States is still
struggling to bring its coronavirus testing up to full speed, as frankly here in Britain is.
My next guest Sir Jeremy Farrar, is uniquely qualified to discuss both the progress of Britain's fight against coronavirus and the status of the prime
minister's health. A medical doctor himself and one of the world's leading experts on pandemics, he serves on the government's Scientific Advisory
Group for Emergencies or S.A.G.E., as it is known, and he runs the Wellcome Trust, which is one of the world's foremost medical research
philanthropies. Sir Jeremy is joining me now.
He said we have never faced something like this, something where we are all engaged in less than 70 days has gone from one city in China to essentially
every country on earth.
Jeremy Farrar, thank you very much for joining me.
Can I just ask you, in your capacity as government expert, as head of -- being on the S.A.G.E. committee and in touch over the months, presumably,
and weeks with the prime minister, what do you make of the fact that he was rushed to ICU after spending night in hospital? What do you think he's in
critical need of right now?
JEREMY FARRAR, DIRECTOR, THE WELLCOME TRUST: Thank you so much and good evening. All my thoughts go out to him and his family. This is affecting
all of us. It doesn't matter if you're the prime minister or any other person in the country and, indeed, around the world. This is terrifying for
And obviously, the prime minister has been ill for some time. I think he was taken to hospital at an appropriate time. I don't think he was rushed
and he is in a fantastic hospital. Will be looking after him. But it just shows you this is indiscriminate. It affects all of us. We have all got
family and we've all got friends who are in intensive care at the moment, and I think our best wishes to all of them. But also, to all health care
workers that are looking after them who deserves such respect and all of our thanks.
AMANPOUR: Let me start by asking you something that you've promoted this week and with the former prime minister, Gordon Brown. You're calling for a
global response now, right? I mean, are you saying that there hasn't been? Because we keep hearing from various different capitals about what they're
doing. What exactly are you calling for, and also, trying to get private business on board?
FARRAR: Yes, there has been a global response, the sharing of information originally from China but now, around the world of the data, the
epidemiology, what is happening to this virus. There has been a global response in that way.
But what there hasn't been yet and what we need is how are we going to get out of this pandemic now? And how are we going to make sure that it doesn't
come back in the future? Because at the moment, the probability, the possibility of the second and third waves is very high. After we go through
this first crisis, we may face the crisis in the future. And the only long- term exit from that is going to be to develop the drugs that we need to treat people and save lives. And also, critically, the development of
vaccines that are going to be needed to make sure we can prevent this happening in the future.
And that is about science, it is about development, it is also about the manufacturing and the distribution of those vaccines so that everybody in
the world can benefit from that science. And at the moment, we don't have that global coming together of the scientific endeavor that puts aside
nation states, puts aside where it would be made and where it would manufactured, and say we need this for the whole world and we need to make
sure nobody is left behind.
Now, the W.H.O. needs to be at the heart of that, the European Commission, a leading extensive work to try to bring countries together. A number of
countries already very generous in terms of supporting, but we do need more. And businesses, which are so badly affected by this, as George
Osborne was just saying, also need an exit strategy and the best exit strategy for all of us is that we have treatment of vaccines that could get
around and prevent future pandemics.
AMANPOUR: I want to ask you about the mechanism for an exit strategy. Is the mechanism testing? Is it a vaccine? What is the mechanism? Because both
the United States and the U.K. have been pretty slow, it looks like from the numbers, from the promises made and from what we know to be the
reality, very slow in getting testing in any meaningful way, not just to patients or people but also to front line medical workers. And it's in
sharp contrast to what Germany's been able to do with testing and the like. Can you put that into perspective for us, please?
FARRAR: You know, each country is going through a different phase in its epidemic. I mean, obviously, it started in China and then of course in
Korea and Japan and Singapore and then, of course, Germany was affected very early in this and set up testing very early. There are undoubtedly
lessons that must be learned about how Germany set that up and has done a great job in certainly delaying its epidemic, even if it may not pre
prevent it altogether.
So, testing was important coming into this epidemic to make sure that people were tested early, health care workers, as you say, to try and slow
the spread of the epidemic. But testing will also be crucial as we come out of the epidemic. As the numbers hopefully start to stabilize, which I think
in Western Europe now, they are starting to stabilize, then it's crucial that all countries have the capacity to test and -- even as we come out of
the epidemic, that those people can then isolate and won't spread it to other people in the community.
So, testing is absolutely crucial, at the start of the epidemic, but perhaps in some ways even more important at the end of the epidemic. But
testing is not the solution on its own. It is critically important and it buys time. But what is important is that we have a long-term strategy to
prevent this ever happening again and that demands having diagnostic testing, having drugs and having vaccines.
AMANPOUR: OK. So, I mean, the obvious question is then is how long before a vaccine? So how long before a vaccine?
FARRAR: I wish I could answer that and I wish it was tomorrow. What I do know is it will take time for whenever we start. And actually, the vaccine
work did start in the middle of January. And as you know, the first potential vaccine in -- was given to an individual volunteer in 63 days
after the sequence of the virus first available, a partnership between the national institutes of health in the United States. The first volunteer was
in Seattle and it was also supported by certainly, the Global Alliance for Vaccines. So, it is happening.
And we know vaccines take a long time to work and to develop. But they take a long time from whenever you start. And so, the quicker we start and the
quicker we don't just do these things in sequence, we don't do the science and then think where should we manufacture, how do we distribute it, how do
we make sure everybody in the world has access to it? We need to do all of those things in parallel and we need to take some big bold risks.
I can't tell you today where that vaccine will come from. It may well come from the United States, it may well come from China, it could come from
Cuba or Russia or India. It could come from anywhere in the world with some innovative scientists and the capacity to produce it. So, as a global
issue, this is in light in self-interest. Every country must have access to the vaccines when they're available. And therefore, I think the world has
to come together and support that financially and scientifically and come together in a way that is a true global public good that we would all
AMANPOUR: Well, you detail that in the op-ed that you wrote. I'm just going to read from it, calling for the G20 and governments and big business
to fund a cure. You basically said, it is now or never for global leadership on COVID-19. Health care systems and societies are buckling
under the strain caused by this coronavirus. But if we do nothing as it spreads in African, Asian, the Latin American cities, which have little
testing equipment and fragile health systems, it will cause devastation, persist and perhaps inevitable fuel other outbreaks worldwide. The only way
we can end the crisis sooner rather than later is do what we have admitted to do for years, fund the public health, scientific and economic agencies
that stand between us and global disaster.
Well, I mean, it makes eminent sense. But the problem is that some countries do do that. We mentioned Germany. It does have a very, very high
rate of funding its public health. Therefore, it has masses of ICU beds that are empty right now. It has testing, you know, really over the top
testing. While the big countries like the United States and Britain, smaller than Germany in terms of its economy, nonetheless, don't have that.
So, what can happen? What do you expect will happen with this call?
FARRAR: Well, there has been a lot of support of it. I mean, the call is there and those words you just read out I think are at the very heart of
the case that's being made. And there's no doubt that countries are starting to think along these lines. Governments of Germany, Norway, Japan
along with the Gates Foundation (INAUDIBLE) set up certainly many years ago, the Global Alliance of Vaccine initiative is -- has been in place
since 2002, 20 years now.
The W.H.O. has been fantastic through this pandemic. They have provided global health leadership and they provided public health support to
particularly to low- and middle-income countries. There is a coming together. The European Commission is talking about bringing all countries
of the world together to try and find a solution to make sure that, yes, we fund the testing, that is critical, but that's a national priority. What
this is about is bringing the world together to put aside differences and national approaches and say the only way we can get through this is to
develop those treatments, those drugs that are critical to saving lives but also, to make the vaccines that are going to be needed.
And yes, it will take weeks and months. It may not happen until 2021. But just imagine a world where we go through this first wave, we come out of it
and we think they're OK and then there is a second wave in 2021 or the end of 2020 and we have not got a vaccine, I think that would be a -- we cannot
leave anybody behind.
AMANPOUR: We're having a tiny bit of trouble with the Skype. But I just want to ask you, are you saying that this kind of lockdown can last into
2021? How do you envision the lockdown proceeding?
FARRAR: No. The lockdown cannot go into 2021. That is very clear. The damage to health as well as the damage to economies is just too profound,
and we have to find a way to, if you like, bridge from where we are today with very draconian measures in place to relaxing those in the weeks and
months ahead on the basis of testing, testing, testing and looking after vulnerable people and caring for people in hospitals. That's the bridging
strategy until the epidemic truly, in its first wave, comes to an end. That's critical and must all do that.
But it's not enough on its own if we don't commit ourselves now, as a world, to come together and make those drugs and those vaccines, which are
the true exit strategy from the pandemic. And I just cannot envisage a situation where we face a second and third wave next year and we did not
have those treatments and vaccines, that would be an absolute disaster situation to be in. To have to go back into these lockdowns, to have to go
back into this economic disruption, which affects so many people's live. And inevitably, when you have these economic disruptions, it affects the
poorest and most vulnerable in society, that is always true.
AMANPOUR: And then we owe it to everybody to not just provide a short-term solution here but to provide a long-term solution so we don't have to go
through this ever again.
AMANPOUR: Indeed. Well, we'll keep checking in with you. Sir Jeremy Farrar, thank you very much indeed.
And a quick note, the Wellcome Trust, which is Jeremy Farrar's medical philanthropy, is in fact opening its London headquarters to NHS workers who
need some respite from the front lines.
And in a similar vein, the tennis legend, Billie Jean King, is contributing the fight of coronavirus as only she can. The Billie Jean King National
Tennis Center, home to the U.S. Open championship is being pressed into service as a 350-bed emergency hospital. And she welcomes the chance to
serve the community and she's also keeping a close watch on how coronavirus impacts her sport and on the athletes forced to deal with the cancelations
and the upheaval that all of this is causing.
Billie Jean is joining me from New York where you are sheltering in place.
Billie Jean King, welcome to the program.
Let me ask you what you feel, what you felt when you heard and when you were told that this is what was going to happen to the Billie Jean King
BILLIE JEAN KING, TENNIS CHAMPION: I was thrilled. There's nothing like contributing to the COVID-19 virus right now in any possible way we can.
The National Tennis Center is unique and that it's a -- actually, it's a public park. People can play tennis there all year. But they're using out
indoor courts and also the Louis Armstrong court has a way for people to come in and actually provide 25,000 meals a day to first responders and
their children and the people working and helping all of the time. That's the really tough situation for people that are in this -- that wake up
Every time I wake up, I go, I'm just getting up to go out and have coffee in the morning and these first responders are getting up to go back again
and to help those people who totally need it.
AMANPOUR: You've been following this for a long time. You have been a New Yorker for a long time. New York is really, really very heavily hit, as you
know. How are you doing? How are you sheltering? And what do you think when you see the need in your great city for your tennis center to be used as a
hospital for potentially parks to be used as temporary graves that just isn't the space to hold all of these emergencies all at once?
KING: Well, the National Tennis Center actually is in queens where it's been very heavily hit, especially Elmhurst area, which is not too far from
the National Tennis Center. So, any way we can help. But what -- I think it's very important, what we have to do is each person has got to do what
they have to do so we don't get anybody else ill.
And so, what I've done is self-isolated. Me, my partner, we have -- so, you know, we just have been isolating for what, 22, 23 days now. I have been
out twice in those days. I work out in the apartment on my bike. I try to do things I never have time to do. So, it's -- I think we wear a mask when
we go outside. Of course, the mask really is to remind us not to touch our face, basically. But these are the things that we really do have to do.
And every night at 7:00, in New York, there is a celebration of thanks to everyone that's out there helping these people that are ill and taking care
of everyone. And, you know, we hit pots and pans, hit the horns, everybody's screaming. We do that for a couple of minutes.
And, also, my hometown of Long Beach, California, has its, every night at 8:00, lights of hope, where people flash lights and make noise, and all
these things. And I think it's a moment where you stop during the day and say thank you to everyone.
And, of course, children are drawing all kinds of artwork and saying thank you to everyone. So, everyone's really come together to help each other.
But it's really important that we sustain, that we adjust.
And, for me, it's been the first time probably in my life I have had a true vacation. I really like to work. Work doesn't feel like work. But this has
caused me to get sleep and rest I never get.
I also have heart issues. I'm a type 2 diabetic. So, I'm at risk. I'm in my 70s. I'm 76 now. So, I have to pay attention and not to get well. So these
are the things that I think each person has to deal with.
CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL HOST: So, tell me, then, because you also have -- I mean, after your own illustrious career, you have been a
mentor, you have been an activist.
I mean, you do a lot for the sport still. And I know that you're in touch with a lot of the current players, a lot of the younger players. And as we
see, certainly in your sport, all the big fixtures, Wimbledon and everything else, canceled, and we see in many other sports as well.
How do you think this affects the psyche, the preparedness, the careers of the active sports people right now?
KING: Well, I think it's really throwing all the athletes for a loop, and I think particularly for tennis, where the one thing is, we don't have
guarantees, like football players or in this country baseball players.
We win by winning matches and getting prize money. So we're under a particular stress, particularly lower-ranking players. They're asking for
help. There's a player, Sofia Shapatava, who's seeking -- she's number 375, and where she's seeking funds to help.
So we have a lot of players. But when you think about Wimbledon, think of all the people that don't have jobs just to make this event happen. And you
have got Roger Federer also. You know, he's won 20 majors. He's won eight Wimbledons. I know he wants to win a ninth Wimbledon.
But this time for him, he did have a knee operation. So this has helped him in a way. And the players who have injuries should take this time to heal
and work out really, really, really hard.
But I know he would like to win at least nine Wimbledon singles, to match Martina Navratilova, who's won nine in the women's singles. And then you
have got Serena Williams, who would like to win 24 singles and all that. So there's stress from my point of view.
But you know what? I have to say that champions adjust. And I mean champions in life, and I think this is the time to really heed that and to
figure out what's the best thing for you to do right now.
But this is a chance for athletes to heal as well. But the financial burden is starting to build as each tournament goes away. And the U.S. Open still
has not gone away yet. I'm sure players are praying. But just remember there's only 128 players in each major championship.
And there's a lot of small tournaments that are going to get hurt. So it's just important that we pull together. And I know the WTA, the women's
association, and the ATP, the men, are working in unison, and they are really trying to figure these challenges out, so we will be together, the
men and women will be together on these issues.
And they're asking the majors to probably help them with some relief financially, because they have most money.
KING: And then there's grassroots programs that are gone.
The International Tennis Federation, the ITF, is trying to figure out how to help the lower-ranking players. So it is an economic hardship on
everybody. And not having events, sporting events, means there's a lot of people they don't have jobs, whether it's an attendant, whether it's the
AMANPOUR: Right, all the support.
AMANPOUR: Yes, all the support staff, yes.
KING: And the support staff.
I don't think most people, when they go to an event, think about that, but I own tournaments and teams. So that's where my heart goes, because I go,
oh, my gosh, these people aren't going to have a job.
KING: And, obviously, people of color are having it much tougher.
So, it's really, really a hardship on everyone. But you know what? I think -- I thought Queen Elizabeth the other day was perfect. I thought her
speech was absolutely wonderful, inspiring, and talked about resiliency.
And this -- one thing that's the -- when you have these crisis is, you get people to come together. They forget about what party they belong to. They
forget about their beliefs in every which way, except believing in each other and helping each other.
AMANPOUR: Let's hope.
AMANPOUR: Let's hope that that -- let's hope that we emerge from this more together.
KING: But the virus is going to tell us when we're going to be able to do whatever.
KING: The virus dictates everything, actually.
Can I just ask you a question? Because you talked about your bike and your stationary bike and how you keep fit. You have been posting some things on
Instagram. You have been posting the fact that you're playing piano.
I know you played piano when you were a little kid, and you're pretty good at piano. And, also, you have been playing in the apartment with your -- I
don't know what it's called, but it's a -- you hit the ball, and it's an eye...
AMANPOUR: Let's have a look.
Tell us about the piano playing. What does this do for you?
KING: Well, I never have a chance to do these things very often. So now I'm absolutely using it to the best of my ability.
I loved piano first, before tennis. So I kind of take a look at it and go, God gave me more energy and gave me better DNA for sports than for music.
And I recognized that as a -- at a young age.
KING: So, piano went on the back. But now I can return to it and be relaxed. And I'm not performing for anybody, which is really nice, just
privacy. And it doesn't matter if you make mistakes. Nothing matters.
So -- and you realize that all the things are really great. But they're -- I think everyone's trying to figure out how to cope.
OK. I have one more. I have got about 30 seconds, and I want to show the picture of you playing tennis, and in the apartment, and have you described
what that is exactly for.
KING: That's for your contact point. It's to teach you to keep your head still, because when you make contact with the ball, your head should be
still. You see it better.
And so it really starts -- when children use the eye coach, they get their hand-eye immediately a lot faster. And that's the essence of our sport, is
AMANPOUR: That's great.
KING: And I love the feel -- I love the feel of hitting the tennis ball. There is nothing -- oh, it's great.
Billie Jean King, thank you so much for joining us.
And, of course, as we said, the center is going to be an emergency hospital. And many other sports also, whether they're basketballs or
footballers or whatever, have given over their stadiums to this fight as well.
Now, in other news, we now want to update you on a story that we have been covering extensively.
The former Vatican treasurer Cardinal George Pell has been freed from prison after Australia's highest court overturned his conviction for
historical child sexual abuse.
In a 2018 -- in 2018, a jury found him guilty of abusing two boys at a cathedral in Melbourne about 30 years ago. And he is the most senior
Catholic figure ever convicted of such crimes. But, today, the court said that the jury should have entertained a doubt regarding the cardinal's
Victims rights groups say this will deliver a blow to survivors.
And now to the race for a vaccine for this virus, as we have been discussing.
And we're going to turn to our next guest, Jon Cohen, who's an award- winning journalist. He's been reporting on infectious diseases for 40 years now.
And he tells our Hari Sreenivasan about the remarkable research being done right now, even as some people are still ignoring the facts.
The two started with the revealing conversation Cohen had with Dr. Anthony Fauci about this very topic.
HARI SREENIVASAN, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: One of the interviews that you had was with Dr. Fauci, who is very available to lots of press.
He has been on the circuit, so to speak, really trying to get his message out. But he was a little more candid with you in a way. What did you get
from that interview? Were you surprised? I mean, you have known him for a long time.
JON COHEN, SENIOR CORRESPONDENT, "SCIENCE": Yes.
So ,I have covered HIV/AIDS since 1989. And there's a work family. And Dr. Fauci, Dr. Birx, Dr. Redfield, they're all HIV/AIDS researchers. All these
people are in my orbit. I have traveled the world with them at conferences. We know each other. We have spent a lot of time together.
And so we do have candid conversations because of the long-term relationships we have. I think, at that moment in time, when I spoke with
Dr. Fauci, he was extremely frustrated, and he had explained his frustration to others.
Maureen Dowd in "The New York Times" that same day had an interview with him, where he had -- where he said that, look, I say it the way I see it,
and if it pisses him off, it pisses him off.
He was he -- I think he was at his wit's end in some way with trying to correct inaccuracies and misstatements and confusion or cloudy messages
coming out. There's been a tremendous amount of mixed messaging happening.
And the scientific message itself is pretty clear-cut and isn't mixed. The scientific community isn't speaking with 30 voices here. It's speaking
pretty much with a single voice about data. And, again, data speak, and scientists who are good scientists hear the data.
And I think Fauci is an excellent scientist, and he hears the data, and he's been put in a position repeatedly of being in the background in this
scenario of almost props behind the president.
And things are being said that, scientifically, aren't accurate, and that's what I really was trying to get at with him, is, how do you do this? And
Fauci has survived many, many administrations for a reason, because he's politically deft. He knows how to absorb things that he thinks are
inaccurate and shift conversations and move people more toward where he thinks they should be.
So, that's what a lot of our conversation focused on, is, how does he do that? And he has a sense of humor. And he's a Brooklyn guy. I mean, both
Trump and Fauci are street kids from New York on some level, and they're communicating on that level with each other, I think. And I think you have
to keep that in mind.
You're talking about two New Yorkers talking to each other. And there's something about that.
SREENIVASAN: You have had an exclusive interview with the head of the CDC in China. What was his advice, his warning to us?
COHEN: I asked him, tell us -- tell me, what are we doing wrong? What are the big mistakes we are making?
And he said the biggest mistake you're making -- and this is true for the United States and Europe -- is that you're not all wearing face masks.
But think about it for a second, Hari -- 1.4 billion people wearing face masks for two, three months. That's not how China typically lives. And,
yes, people in China wear face masks more than they do in the United States in Europe when there's no coronavirus, but it's not that common, and it's
And so his feeling was that it's made a big difference, and that we're making a mistake by not doing the same thing.
SREENIVASAN: One of the things that Anthony Fauci and his counterpart in China both agree on is that having thermometers, widespread use of them,
outside grocery stores, outside public places would help. Why aren't we doing that?
COHEN: It's a great question. I don't know.
And my son worked at a grocery store down the block, and I spoke with the owner about doing it. And I pointed out there was a grocery store in
Atlanta that was doing it. And I think it should happen. It's a very logical, simple thing to do.
I don't know why, Hari. I don't know. And I asked my son to stop working at the grocery store, because I was afraid, as case counts grew in my
neighborhood, that he putting us all at too much risk.
SREENIVASAN: Let's shift gears a little bit to the vaccination part that is happening.
If you could, right now, if you go to the CDC Web site, you see dozens of different attempts at coming up with a vaccine. If you could, break down
the different categories or different approaches that people are taking to try to solve for this problem.
COHEN: So, the World Health Organization keeps the master list. And I'd encourage anyone to look at that. There's a blueprint there of all the
vaccines in development.
I looked at it this morning. There are over 60 in development. Two have moved into human trials already. And think about that. That's remarkable
This virus is first identified in "The Wall Street Journal" on January 8. The sequence of the virus becomes available January 10. That day, that day,
vaccine makers start making vaccine, because they can make it from the sequence of virus.
So now we're into early April. We already have clinical trials. I have never seen anything like this. And I have covered vaccines for more than 30
years. That's tremendous speed.
What the different categories are, start with the old-fashioned, traditional vaccine. If you go back 50, 75 years, basically, all vaccines
were made one of two ways. You take the whole virus, if it's a viral vaccine, take the whole virus, you kill it, an activation, or you weaken it
through passaging and cultures, or you find a natural variant that's weaker.
So that's the inactivated and the live attenuated vaccine. Those two approaches are being done. But those are old-fashioned.
The sexier, modern approaches that everyone loves, genetically engineer the protein that's on the surface of the virus that's the key component of the
vaccine in most people's mind. Most people think you don't need the whole virus, that you can just use the surface protein.
So you can just engineer that. Or you can take that gene for that surface protein and stitch it into a harmless virus. So, there are harmless
adenoviruses, cold viruses, for example, that can carry in like a Trojan horse that gene, so the body makes that protein.
You can also use the measles vaccine as that Trojan -- as that Trojan horse to bring in what's called the spike protein, the surface protein.
Then there's messenger RNA, a very novel, sexy technique that you just stitch in the spike protein gene in the messenger RNA and you use that. You
can also use just DNA itself. It used to be called naked DNA. It's just a circle of DNA, you stitch it into that.
You can use bacteria to carry in the virus. So there's a whole range of different approaches. And who knows which ones will work best.
SREENIVASAN: So how long? If we're already in kind of clinical trials for a couple of them now, how long until a vaccine is readily available? Is it
the 12 months or 18 months that Anthony Fauci and others have been telling us about, or could it be faster?
COHEN: Well, it's a bit of a mug's game.
We have -- with every new pathogen, we always ask this question. We always want to know, how long is it going to take? Traditional vaccine testing
requires three phases. The first phase is very few people. Let's say 10, 20, 30 people, and you're just looking for safety and immune responses.
The second phase, you expand the same questions to maybe 100 people or 200 people or 500 people, but you're really just looking for safety and immune
The third phase is, you're really doing the real-world efficacy study, where you're putting people who are at high risk of becoming infected and
splitting half into the placebo group, half in the vaccine.
If you go through that three phase process, it takes a year to 18 months. And that's assuming things don't go wrong. And, Hari, things always go
wrong, always. There's a manufacturing problem. There's a safety issue. There's no more transmission of a virus in a region. Look what happened
with the Zika and Zika efficacy vaccine trials.
They hit the wall, because Zika went away in the regions where the vaccine is being tested. So that's traditional.
Now, can we speed it up beyond that year or 18 months? There are very provocative ideas out there that potentially could speed things up even
SREENIVASAN: OK, so let's say, best-case scenario, we do come up with a vaccine. Is this something that everyone on the planet needs to have? Do we
get some sort of global herd immunity?
Or are we essentially going to be concerned about coronavirus, COVID-19 outbreaks, depending on what country you lived in, whether you had access
to this, and where you're traveling?
COHEN: So, to break the back of an epidemic, you have to get below one.
One is each infected person infecting one other person. If you get below that, the epidemic peters out. So, how do we get below one? It's called R0
of one, to get technical, but how do you R0 below one?
A vaccine in about half the population, with the existing herd immunity that already exists from natural infection, will get you below one.
And there's an interesting experiment that occurred in the United States with the introduction of the polio vaccine. The polio vaccine that came out
in 1955 from Jonas Salk was about 70 percent effective.
About 70 percent of the kids in the country received the vaccine. Between 1955 and 1961, the polio new cases dropped by 96.6 percent from 70 percent
efficacious vaccine with 70 percent of the people receiving it.
We broke the back of polio entirely in six years' time with a mediocre vaccine that a lot of people didn't get. So it doesn't have to be everyone.
Does this go away? Do we get to that smallpox eradication, which is what we really want? I mean, smallpox went into freezers. That's the only place it
exists, because of an eradication program that the world jointly did together.
We're attempting to do the same thing with polio now. We can do that with vaccines. We can take these things out of world. We can. But it takes a
hell of a lot of effort.
SREENIVASAN: Right now, there's also a lack of patience. Just recently, we saw the president expressing his impatience at the testing process. He says
there's people dying now. I'd love to go to a lab and do this the old- fashioned way, but I want to solve this problem today.
Look, there's a lot of people who are tired of being cooped up in their houses, and they want to get back to work, right? And one of the things
that the president has been exuberant about is hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin, or the combination thereof.
Should we be cautious of this?
And we should be aware of what the past has taught us. And what the past has taught us about medicines for viral diseases is, most don't work. I'm
sorry to say that. And some will. It takes a lot of testing to find the stuff that truly works.
And to blatantly say that this is safe and will not cause harm is not accurate. Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine can cause harm in some people.
And the dosages that you might need to stop this virus may well be too high for humans to tolerate.
There are clinical trials under way. They will have answers quickly, within the next few weeks, I would guess, a month. And they will have strong
comparisons with people who aren't treated that allow you to say with certainty whether this is helpful, maybe helpful, or harmful, or does
Those are the four possibilities. And, right now, the conversation and the hope that people have and that President Trump has that this will work can
overshadow the reality of science and how nature and how drug development actually works, which is, it's a step-by-step, careful process because it's
easy to be mistaken and it's easy to be fooled.
I think there's a great deal of confusion that's being created by Trump's enthusiasm. And I understand his enthusiasm. We're desperate. People want
hope. And I put my hope and my excitement into the fact that there are clinical trials that are going to get answers, not into a product.
And what we learned with Ebola in West Africa in 2014 through 2016 is that all sorts of advocates for different treatments waved their flags and
chanted their chants and put their fists in the air. And they were all wrong. Every one of them was wrong. None of the things they believed work.
It proved -- in time, none of those things proved to work. So, caveat, everyone. Really, take a deep breath. Let's wait a few weeks to get solid
data and stop blaring the trumpets about this thing or that thing, because most of them probably won't do anything to help people.
SREENIVASAN: What's the biggest lesson you have learned now, covering all of these different viruses and pandemics and outbreaks and different
governments and countries?
What do you find is a common thread?
COHEN: I think the thing I have learned from this is, this has altered our sense of the world. And the world we once knew no longer exists.
It's that profound. And I think of the Kubler-Ross stages of grief. And I think we're collectively grieving the death of the world we knew, and we're
reinventing a new world that accepts that COVID-19 is here.
That requires us to adjust and adjust and adjust. And we keep having to wake up to things that we never imagined seeing before, to take actions we
never thought were actions we would tolerate or could do, and to work together in a way that we never have before.
And I once went to a baseball game with my son and his coach, who was a former professional player. And I said to him, you're looking at the field
and seeing something I'm not seeing. What are you seeing? And he said, everyone came to this game with a plan. And when the first pitch was
thrown, everyone started adjusting every single pitch.
And that's what I see the world doing now. Everyone's adjusting every single pitch, and it just doesn't end. You don't make a decision and say,
OK, now we have done it. Now we're good.
We're seeing everyone fight this in a dynamic sense, and to keep looking around at others to say, well, what's working for you? What isn't working
The biggest thing I see at fault with the world and with the governments of the world is this reluctance to be self-critical. Politicians want to crow
about how much good they're doing.
What we really need is politicians to put up a dashboard, the way that Debbie Birx has with PEPFAR and the AIDS program, that says, here are our
goals, here's what we're providing, here's where we're missing, here's an area where it's working, here's an area where it's not.
And we need to constantly reevaluate to find our weak spots and to start being honest about how we can do better, because we have to do better than
SREENIVASAN: Jon Cohen of "Science" magazine, thanks so much for joining us.
COHEN: Thank you so much, Hari.
AMANPOUR: Another really strong case for how governments just need to level with people and cooperate in order to combat and defeat this virus.
Thank you for watching. Goodbye from London.